The Parents Guide: Supporting Your Child At University

With the beginning of the academic year fast approaching, we think it’s only right to put together this guide for parents and guardians whose children are moving away and starting a new chapter in their lives at university.

Whilst we know it’s a daunting time for young people, it’s also a worrying and stressful time for their families too. Your child is going off into the big wide world, and probably moving away from home for the first time. You’ve probably had a long while to prepare yourself for this big transition, but now it’s coming closer, you may be flooded with feelings.

Don’t worry, you’re in the same boat as a lot of other people across the country and your child is going to have an amazing experience during their three years at uni.

Although, there are some ways you can support them and yourself whilst they’re away studying, carry on reading to find out.

university parent guide

Supporting Your Child During Move In Day

The day your child officially moves out of your family home and into student accommodation will be a hard day no doubt, not just for them but also for you. They’re flying the nest and starting their journey on their own, it’s for sure a tear-jerking time.

Here’s a few tips for getting through this big day and supporting your child.

Create A Plan

Create a rough plan of how the day is going to go, such as if you’re dropping your child off into their accommodation then plan the timings well and help check they’ve packed everything.

It’s going to be a stressful and anxiety inducing time for them, so if you’re able to take off some of the pressure of organising and planning the move out day, then they’ll feel a lot more relaxed.

Not to mention, this will also make the day go a lot smoother for you if you’ve thought about things in advance.

Planning for your child to move away

Don’t Overstay

Whilst this may be the last time you see your child for a while, try not to overstay during their first day in their new home, unless of course they ask you too.

They need to take the leap into independence and it’s a busy day of getting to know new people, settling into their new home and seeing their new surroundings.

There’s nothing wrong with helping them unpack and staying for a few hours, but don’t cling onto them.

We know, you’re going to miss them and vice versa, but you should let them find their feet.

Don't overstay

Try To Stay Positive

If you’re able to, try to keep the mood cheery and positive to some extent.

Whilst there’s nothing wrong with shedding a few tears (it’s completely expected), It may make things more daunting for your child if you’re bawling your eyes out and appear heartbroken over them moving out.

So, try to stay somewhat composed and be excited for them.

Even if you are feeling sad, then wait until you get home to have a big cry, as it might lead them to getting cold feet about the transition or feel guilty.

Parent being positive

Expect Little Communication

When you’ve finished helping your child move in or said the final goodbye, try to refrain from expecting them to message you and keep up to date with you too much.

They’re going to be very busy meeting new people and settling in by themselves over the first few days so they may not have too much time for a phone call with Mum or Dad.

We’re not saying you should expect to not speak to them whatsoever but let them do the communicating to some extent.

This way they won’t feel bombarded, you’re their parents or guardians and they love you, but they do need some time to adjust.

Expect no communication

Expect Lots Of Communication

For some people, they might send their parents tons of messages and want to call them a lot during their first few days in their new student home.

So, prepare yourselves to have a fair few notifications from your son or daughter.

They’re most likely feeling quite homesick, and this is normal, so don’t worry.

The transition to university life is different for everyone, so they may take longer than others to settle into their new home, which is fine.

Just offer them support and be there for them, but don’t go mad with worry. They’re an adult after all!

Communicating with child at uni

Supporting Your Child At University

Now, let’s discuss how to support your child at university on the whole and how to keep yourself at ease as a parent.

1. Support From A Distance

If we’ve learnt anything from the pandemic it’s that supporting someone from a distance is possible, no matter how hard it is.

If you’re missing your child whilst they’re miles away from you, then there’s nothing wrong with telling them that but try to refrain from asking them when they’re coming home for a visit. Instead, use video calls like Facetime to have a catch up and feel like you’re together.

You can give them love from wherever you are, you can even send them care packages or meals for them to make to let them know you’re thinking of them and want to help them out, we’re sure they’ll really appreciate it.

Support from a distance

2. Help Out With Money

Let’s be honest, university is expensive and with the cost-of-living crisis currently taking place, your child may face some financial worries.

It may be that they’ve not budgeted very well and underestimated how expensive freshers’ week or living independently is.

Or it may be that their maintenance loan doesn’t leave them with much after paying their rent.

Whatever it is that’s left them in a tricky money situation, try to support them if you’re able to.

We’re not saying you should fork out loads to help your child out, but if you can send them some money for a food shop or offer to lend them some money then they’d probably be super grateful.

You can also help them look into financial support at university and see if your child fits the criteria for any bursaries or extra income.

Helping out with money

3. Offer Them Advice

Whilst it’s good to encourage your child to be independent, it’s also important to be there for them and offer them advice with things too.

This is probably the first time they’ve had to wash their own clothes, cook their own meals and generally just get by on their own.

So, they might need some practical skills teaching to them and require tips off their family to help them.

Parental advice

4. Be Understanding

University is vastly different from other forms of higher education like a-levels so, don’t expect too much from your child too early.

We know, the most important part about this experience is their education, but it can be a challenging time for them.

From getting to grips with new methods of teaching to learning a new curriculum to new grade boundaries to new technology, this can all have an impact on their academic performance.

Don’t worry too much about their grades and expecting them to excel, especially during their first year.

The same goes for being happy for your child if they are doing well at uni, celebrate their success and let them know you’re proud of them, it can be motivating and heart-warming to hear.

Parent being understanding

5. Find Support If You’re Concerned

If you’re worried about your child’s wellbeing whilst they’re away at university, then there are tons of support and resources available for them and for you.

Such as, Student Minds offer parent’s support resources as well as for young people on how to look after their mental health. If you’re really worried about your child, then you can get in touch with their student accommodation team or university support services and let them know.

We’re sure they’ll be happy to check on your child, and whilst your child may feel embarrassed and possibly annoyed about you doing this, if there is a real cause for concern it’s the right thing to do.

Mental health support

6. Acknowledge Unhealthy Habits

Similarly, to what we’ve just mentioned, another way you can support your child at university is to help them with unhealthy habits.

Such as, the social side of uni is notorious for going out partying and drinking, but it can easily become an unhealthy coping mechanism.

So, let your child know the importance of moderation and keep an eye on them.

There’s a fine line between having fun and making memories, but if it starts to become unhealthy then you may need to intervene.

Do remember though, they are an adult and can make their own decisions, you can offer them support but don’t be overbearing.

Acknowledge Unhealthy Habits  

7. Let Them Know Home Is Always There

Another tip we have for supporting your child at uni is letting them know that home is always there.

Whilst your child might appear like they’re living the life at university and that they’re super happy, you should remind them that if they do want to come home at any point that they can, even if it’s during the academic term.

Your child’s mental health should come first and if they’re not feeling great, a visit home can do the world of good.

The same goes for visiting your child, if you’re able to why not offer to visit them in their uni city or town? We’re sure they’d really love seeing you.

Home is always there

8. Look After Yourself

Supporting your child or any young person at university is important. However, looking after yourself is just as important.

So, if you start to realise that your wellbeing is taking a slight toll from missing them and having them out of the house, especially if you’re a single parent, then ensure you take care of you.

We’d suggest keeping busy if you’re able to, whether it’s starting a new hobby or taking time to meet up with friends or other family members.

You should also spend time practising self-care, you’ve done the hardest part, your child’s flown the nest!

It’s now time you spent some time doing what you love and making space to do things you’ve always wanted to do.

If you do have other children who still live with you, then remember to be there for them, they’re probably missing their sibling too!

Parents self care

We hope this university parent guide has helped you with how to deal with your child heading off to uni and provided you with some supportive tips to make use of, for yourself and for your child.

We wish you a smooth process with moving them into student accommodation and saying goodbye!

Here at Homes for Students, we know that a student’s living environment has an impact on their academic performance and wellbeing, which is why our spaces are designed to provide the best possible student experience.

We also work in partnership with the universities, student unions and Student Minds so rest assured, your child will feel right at home with us!

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